Arkansas Football Opens Season for SEC Network


SEC Network To Showcase Two Arkansas Teams in First Three Weeks of Season

Future SEC Scheduling Formats Announced

The Arkansas Razorbacks’ first two games of the 2014 season will be nationally televised on the SEC Network with 3 p.m. kickoffs, it was announced last week. The network also announced the Arkansas State Red Wolves game at Knoxville, Tenn., against the Volunteers will be televised Sept. 6, with an 11 a.m. kickoff.

The Razorbacks’ second season under head coach Bret Bielema begins Aug. 30 at Auburn, where Arkansas has won three of its last four games. In addition, the first Saturday broadcast ofSEC Nation, the traveling pre-game show on the SEC Network, will originate from the game.

Arkansas opens its home schedule the next week when it hosts Nicholls State inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have won six straight Fayetteville openers and 14 of the last 15.

The Arkansas football team wrapped up its 15 spring practices last Saturday with the annual Red-White Spring Game in front of 30,000 fans in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Bielema spoke about his impressions from the spring and how the team will move forward during the summer.

“I thought our guys made some nice strides,” Bielema said. “I thought our guys really improved and we capitalized on our 15 practices. Obviously, you always want to be better, but I couldn’t be happier with the progress, especially with some of our players that didn’t play a lot last year and the way they came along and came out of it relatively injury free. We’re excited about the coming summer and the transition where the NCAA is going to allow us to meet with our players. I think that’s a real benefit for a program like ours that is trying to come up from the bottom and get to a place in the SEC that we’re comfortable being in.”

The Red-White Spring Game attendance is tied for 16th-most in the country this season, and Coach Bielema has felt the support from Razorback fans all over the state as he continues to build the program.

“I saw that there were a lot of people that showed up to our game and gave great support to the program,” Coach Bielema said. “I could not be more excited about where we are going. I have been to Razorback clubs all over the state, and people attending those things are very positive. Everybody wants to win and there is an obvious urgency to do that. I’m excited because we know that we are a better team than we were a year ago today.”

As the team moves into the summer, one of the rule changes for this season that should benefit the Razorbacks allows for teaching time between the coaching staff and student-athletes.

“The NCAA has allowed a certain number of hours per week that you can utilize to work with your players during the summer,” Bielema said. “Until this year, only the strength coaches could use that time. We as coaches couldn’t but this year what they have allowed us to do is have a six-to-two ratio. We won’t use that much. Coach Herbert will have seven hours and we will have an hour where we can sit down and visit with our players. My assistants will take the first three weeks and then myself and the coordinators will take the fourth week. Then they will get a couple of weeks off from that where they will have double time in the weight room. Then we will bring it full circle. It is something our players have really responded to and hopefully it will be the same way during the summer.”

Arkansas opens its 2014 schedule Aug. 30 at defending SEC champion Auburn in a game set to be televised nationally on the SEC Network. The game marks the first time since joining the SEC the Razorbacks will open with a conference opponent. It also will be the first time since 1999, when Arkansas opened at SMU, that Arkansas will play its season opener on the road and the first time since a 1980 matchup at Texas that the Razorbacks will begin the season with a conference game on the road. Coach Bielema believes such a high-profile opener has his team in a great situation entering the season.

“As far as playing Auburn, I don’t think we could ask for a better scenario than to play a team that accomplished so much a year ago and is very well-coached football team with so many players back to open up on the SEC Network,” Bielema said. “To have all of that going for us in one direction is a very, very positive thing.”

Arkansas Football Opens Season for SEC NetworkThe SEC Network launches Aug. 14 and will televise approximately 45 SEC football games in 2014. AT&T U-Verse, DISH and National Rural Telecommunications cooperative (NRTC) have agreed to carry the SEC Network as of this date. If your carrier is not listed, fans can go to

Fans can purchase season tickets for the Razorbacks’ 2014 campaign online, at the Razorback Ticket Center or over the phone by calling 800-982-HOGS (4647) between 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Additionally, the SEC Network announced Thursday that it will televise Arkansas State’s Sept. 6 game at Tennessee, giving the Red Wolves three contests scheduled to be televised thus far for the 2014 season.

The Red Wolves’ second game of the season and second all-time meeting with Tennessee is set for an 11 a.m. (CT) kickoff at Neyland Stadium.  A-State and Tennessee first played in 2007 in Knoxville with the Volunteers claiming a 48-27 victory in front of a crowd of 102,368, the largest ever to watch a Red Wolves’ game.

Entering the 2014 season, 43 of Arkansas State’s last 52 games have been televised.  The 2013 season saw every Arkansas State football game televised for the first time in school history.  The Red Wolves previous school record for televised games in a season was 10 in 2010, 2011 and 2012. 

In addition to their game at Tennessee, the Red Wolves have televised contests in 2014 scheduled for Oct. 21 at Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN2) and Nov. 20 at Texas State (ESPNU).  Arkansas State will have additional television opportunities that will be announced as they are finalized.

Season tickets for the 2014 campaign are on sale at the A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center’s lower red entrance.  The ticket office can also be contacted at 870-972-2781 and tickets may be purchased online at  A-State has claimed three consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and won the GoDaddy Bowl the last two years.

For more information about the SEC Network visit

The Southeastern Conference also announced last week the format for future football scheduling that is a continuation of the existing format and adds a strength-of-schedule component that requires all schools to play an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis. The announcement comes after a vote of the league’s institutions.

Each SEC team will continue to play eight conference football games per season, to include six games against division opponents and two games against non-division opponents. One of the non-division opponents will be a permanent annual opponent and the other non-division opponent will rotate each year.

In addition, at least one opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 must be scheduled by each SEC school on an annual basis beginning in 2016, with assistance from the conference office.

“This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule,” said Commissioner Mike Slive. “Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents.

“The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games. Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year.”

The announcement is the culmination of a process that began in the spring of 2013 when the SEC presidents and chancellors committed to a review of football scheduling to be completed in time for the preparation of the 2016 football schedule with the objective of establishing a format in the best long term interests of the conference. Approval of the format came at a special joint meeting of the presidents and chancellors of each SEC institution and each conference athletic director held Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

“The existing strength of the SEC was certainly a significant factor in the decision to play eight games,” Slive said. “In fact, just last year, five of our schools comprised the top five toughest schedules in the nation according to the NCAA and nine ranked in the top 20.

“A number of our schools play annual ACC opponents, and recent history shows our schools are already playing a significant number of strong non-conference opponents across the country on a home and home basis or in neutral site games.”

From 2006 through games scheduled in 2015, SEC teams will have played 132 games against schools from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12. More than half of the SEC schools have played two or more teams from those conferences in a single season at least once during that period and several schools have done it in multiple seasons.

The decision to maintain an eight-game conference schedule allows for a number of other advantages:

  • A balanced league schedule for all teams – equal home and away conference games (four home and four away); a nine-game schedule would have resulted in some teams with five home games and others with four on an annual basis
  • Accommodates varying institutional non-conference scheduling philosophies
  • Allows for marquee neutral site games – the popularity of neutral site games has grown in recent years, as evidenced by large crowds and significant TV ratings for those games that feature major intersectional opponents

“Tradition matters in the SEC, and there is no denying that tradition was a significant factor in this decision because it protects several long-standing cross-division conference rivalries,” said Slive. “It has been a hallmark of the SEC over our history to be able to make continued progress while also maintaining traditions important to our institutions.”

The decision to maintain a permanent non-division opponent also presents other advantages:

  • Creates annual cross-division rivalries that otherwise would not be annual games
  • Provides each team with a traditional opponent for the final weekend of the season

The permanent non-division opponents are as listed below:

Arkansas (west) vs. Missouri (east)
Alabama (west) vs. Tennessee (east)
Auburn (west) vs. Georgia (east)
LSU (west) vs. Florida (east)
Ole Miss (west) vs. Vanderbilt (east)
Mississippi State (west) vs. Kentucky (east)
Texas A&M (west) vs. South Carolina (east)

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